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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Montana Wildfire Update For August 2, 2021

Montana Wildfire News

The Boulder 2700 Fire burning more than 1,000 acres east of Flathead Lake near Polson has burned 8 primary structures and 17 secondary structures as of this afternoon, according to incident officials. Evacuation orders issued July 31 for residents along Highway 35 from mile marker 6 to 13 on the east side of Flathead Lake, including all of Finley Point, remain in effect.

Evacuation orders issued July 31 for residents along Highway 35 from mile marker 6 to 13 on the east side of Flathead Lake, including all of Finley Point, remain in effect.

The Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 4 took command of the Boulder 2700 Fire from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Division of Fire Monday morning. Public Information Officer Christine Kolinski says Crews are protecting structures within the fire area, beginning to establish containment lines on the north and south flanks of the fire and working to restore power to 300 homes in the Finley Point and evacuation area.

Kolinski says recent rains weren’t enough to wet the fire area.

“It has kind of simmered the fire, but the large fuels are still dry out there.”

Highway 35 remains closed in both directions from Polson at the Highway 93 junction to Blue Bay mile marker 15. The fire is 0 percent contained.

Fire officials will provide the latest information on evacuations and closures at 6:30 this evening at the Lindermann School Gym in Polson. The meeting can be attended online.

PF Fire

Firefighters are making progress on the largest wildfire in Montana, burning 6 miles northeast of Hardin in Big Horn County and the Crow Reservation.

Inciweb reports the PF Fire, formerly called the Poverty Flats Fire, is 67,000 acres and 60 percent contained. The fire has not grown appreciably since Saturday. The increase in acreage is due to better mapping.

Today, fire crews are working to strengthen and improve containment lines while utilities crews are repairing a main transmission line to restore power to the affected area.

The PF fire has burned grass and sagebrush and is burning primarily in cottonwood trees along the eastern edge of the Bighorn River.

The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s County Assist Team assumed fire management Sunday morning.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs Crow Agency Fire reports a person is expected to be charged with arson for allegedly starting the Exit 530 Fire east of Lodge Grass on the Crow Reservation in southeast Montana. No further information is currently available on the investigation. The fire has burned 24 acres of brush and grass and is 60 percent contained. One shed has been destroyed.

The Taylor Fire is burning more than 20,000 acres northeast of Denton in Fergus County.

Dispatchers were alerted to the fire Sunday and the blaze grew rapidly, according to Fergus County Fire Warden and DES Coordinator Ryan Peterson.

Peterson says the fire originally started in crop land, but heavy wind Sunday pushed the flame toward local creeks.

“They were reporting 20, 30 foot flame lengths initially when this thing got going across the prairie and [it] got worked down into some low areas and it’s held up in some timber now.”

Peterson says the fire is zero percent contained, but state, federal and local fire personnel are catching up to the flames. He says the fire is behaving in such a way that fire crews are able to access it.

The National Weather Service forecasts possible rain and thunderstorms in the area tonight Monday nigh] and Tuesday.

New Fires

The National Interagency Fire Center or NIFC reports there were 24 new fire starts in Montana on Sunday, prompting moderate initial attacks by federal, state and local firefighters. Ten of those fires were contained, controlled or out by late Sunday.

The largest new fires are the 2,000 acre Eagle Butte Fire in Chouteau County and the nearly 21,000 acre Taylor Fire northeast of Denton off Bear Springs Road in Fergus County.

Fergus County Disaster and Emergency Services Director Ryan Peterson says 2 outbuildings have been destroyed but no primary residences. Federal, state and county fire resources on scene and there is zero containment.

The remainder of the new starts are less than an acre in size with the exception of the Whitetail Creek fire in Lake County which is 40 acres.

NIFC reports there are 38 uncontained large fires and 40 active fires in total covering nearly 492,000 acres in the Northern Rockies. That includes Montana, North Idaho, North Dakota and parts of South Dakota and Wyoming. The National Interagency Situation Reporting Programs identifies 72 percent of the current fires in Montana as human caused. The rest are lightning caused.

Montana Disaster and Emergency Services reports 53 of the state’s 56 counties have either Stage-1 or Stage-2 fire restrictions.

Both the Northern Rockies and National fire preparedness levels are at 5, the highest level because of widespread fire activity.

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